Disappointing draw spells trouble for the New York Red Bulls (Highlights)
Feb 22, 2017; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) celebrates after scoring a goal during the second half against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls seek to win back disgruntled fans, fix disastrous play, and look forward to returning to winning ways.

  • Recent Form: WWLLL
  • Record: 5W-1D-6L

Next Game:

  • VS. Toronto FC 7W-4T-1L
  • Friday, May 18, 2017
  • Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ
  • Kickoff 7:30pm
  • Where to watch- MSG

Friday vs. Toronto FC

The New York Red Bulls will kick off at home tomorrow night against Toronto FC. The 7:30 p.m. ET game will prove a tough match against a solid Toronto side. RBNY will look for a positive result in the second home match in a stretch of three. After a disappointing 3-0 loss against LA Galaxy, RBNY certainly are in need of a win.

Toronto FC are currently first in the East with a record of 7W-4T-1L. TFC have accumulated 25 points this season, nine more than RBNY. A solid three away wins have certainly aided TFC in their first place pursuit. Friday’s game will serve as an early test to RBNY’s journey to an MLS Cup.

Struggle and Support Going Forward

Unfortunately, The New York Red Bulls recent three-game slump is drawing concerns about the direction of the team. Ticket sales this year have been average at best. Since the Colorado game on Mar. 11, Red Bull Arena has seen an average of 19,482 fans. Dax’s return a few games back were able to draw the most fans recently with 22,814. Reported attendance statistics, however, can vary from ticket sales and actual attendance. While 19,482 out of an available 25,000 seats is quite a bit the atmosphere at Red Bull Arena could use improvement. For the sake of the team and fan experience, support inside the stadium needs to improve.

In fact, Red Bull Arena in 2016 saw the ninth most average attendance in MLS as reported by Foxsports.com. This was achieved by an average of 20,620 almost 50 fans below Montreal’s average. This same report claimed that the stadium also only filled 81.8% of its season total capacity.

When compared to other teams like Portland (Avg. 21,144), LA Galaxy (Avg. 25,147), and NYCFC (27,196) RBNY fall short.

Attendance becomes a concern when fans in the stadium experience a lackluster atmosphere. Sources that spur this atmosphere could range from fractured supporters groups to poor fan engagement. Whatever the source, the end result is an experience of displeasure. The dismal mood that has frequented games at Red Bull Arena is now compounded with a three-game loss streak.

Jesse Marsch in an interview on May 17th explained how the team was angered by their loss against Los Angeles. With this mentality, RBNY look to “right the wrong” as Marsch noted on Friday. A win on Friday against TFC could certainly give a boost to fan, team and front office morale. In turn, this win could result in a better fan experience as the team looks to achieve more wins.

How Can Red Bulls Turn Around?

The New York Red Bulls need to focus on getting out of their current losing rut. Fortunately, there are many opportunities to accomplish this. The first opportunity will be on Friday. Fortunately for RBNY, Giovinco is expected to not play on Friday because of a quad strain. Giovinco is currently TFC’s co-leader in goals. Similarly, Altidore is the only one with the same goal count. The Italian also leads the team in shots. If RBNY capitalize on his absence, the team can find itself in a comfortable .500 position. Of course, New York will have to contain Altidore and Vazquez. Both have achieved a combined seven goals and 12 assists this season.

The New York Red Bulls second opportunity will be on Saturday, May 27. RBNY will be facing the struggling New England Revolution. If the New York Red Bulls can come away 2-1 from a three-game home stretch they will be in good shape. This would put RBNY at 7W-1T-6L (23pts).

Enough Dwelling on the Past

RBNY lost three in a row. Enough said. Jesse Marsch and RBNY are looking to future games. Fortunately, Collin’s recovery is going well after an abdomen strain suffered in the match against Chicago. While Collin is not expected to play tomorrow, his improving health shows promise for future games. Mike Grella was optimistic and agreed with Sacha that their performance against LA was an “outlier.” Hopefully, Grella soon returns to good form as he has in the past. His seven goals and six assists added an offensive pressure which propelled RBNY to no. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Future Selections

Looking at Friday and the future, RBNY’s lineup selections will be critical. Bradley Wright-Phillips needs offensive support. Whether that support comes from Kljestan or possibly Grella, the offensive support for RBNY is important if they want to remain in contention for a playoff spot. Defensively, Collin back from injury would certainly aid the attack while helping Robles keep clean sheets. Lastly, hopefully, Veron could add his DP value at some time this season. If not, hopefully, RBNY turn to DP replacement. As a result, may attract more fans and contribute to the team.

Presently, it is RBNY vs. Toronto FC, Friday night at Red Bull Arena! Therefore, tomorrow’s game will serve as probably one of the most important games in MLS this week.

Chris Sudol is a former college soccer player who now avidly supports the New York Red Bulls, Arsenal, and Barcelona, among many other soccer teams.